Maharashtra Political Crisis: 'If Shiv Sainiks ask me to resign, I am ready,' says CM Uddhav Thackeray

Uddhav said that Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and senior Congress leader Kamal Nath phoned him saying they want him to continue as Chief Minister

Sanjay JogUpdated: Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 11:36 PM IST
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Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray | PTI

Mumbai: In a 17-minute emotional live webcast on Wednesday evening, Uddhav Thackeray announced that he is prepared to step down as the Maharashtra chief minister and also as the Shiv Sena President if the rebelling MLAs and the Shiv Sainiks want. He lamented the present situation and said his resignation letter is ready and will give up the posts if a Shiv Sainik would be his successor.

Thackeray began his address by saying that he tested positive for Covid-19. He said he is not helpless and insisted that the rebel legislators should come and speak to him demanding his resignation instead of expressing their views on TV and social media.

“I am ready to leave the post of the Shiv Sena party president, not based on what others have to say but what Shiv Sainiks have to say. I have nothing to worry till Shiv Sainiks are with me,” he said.

He said, “It’s not about numbers but how many are against me. It’s very shameful for me if even a single MLA is against me. If they had something against me, what was the need of saying all this in Surat; they could have come here and said this to my face.”

Thackeray said he is getting calls from MLAs who have gone with Eknath Shinde, claiming they have been forcibly taken away and want to come back. “If the Congress and the NCP said I should not be CM, it’s different. But my own people are saying this. I am surprised… what can I say,” said Thackeray, adding that “even Kamal Nath said I should be the CM”.

Thackeray said that the Shiv Sena never separated from Hindutva. “Hindutva is in our breath. It is not the time to talk about who has done what for Hindutva. I have been trying to take Balasaheb’s Hindutva ahead,” he added.

Existential crisis

Meanwhile, Thackeray faces multiple challenges; the survival of the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government being on top of the list. Equally important for him, though, is to keep the Shiv Sena politically relevant and party supremo late Balasaheb Thackeray’s legacy intact. This is a crucial task as Eknath Shinde, who claims support of over 46 legislators, has not only challenged Thackeray’s leadership but also questioned staking the claim over the party’s Hindutva agenda.

Despite repeated clarifications by Thackeray that Shiv Sena has not left Hindutva nor compromised on it to lead the state government, Shinde has claimed that by costing up new allies – the NCP and the Congress – Shiv Sena is not in a position to be an ardent advocate of Hindutva as the party has given its approval for incorporating secularism in the common minimum programme finalised at the time of formation of government.

Shinde has thereby hinted that he will be the new HinduHruday Sampat and Hindutva will be pursued by joining hands with the BJP.

Thackeray now will have to pay attention to ramping up his outreach with Shiv Sainiks to tighten his grip and mobilise them over genuine and real concern for Hindutva. Besides, he will have to make amendments in his style of functioning to consolidate Balasaheb Thackeray’s legacy of pride and identity. Moreover, he will have to start the fight against the mighty BJP afresh.

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